By Karlyn Borysenko, Leadership Content Director
This week, the New Media Consortium released its 2014 Higher Education Edition, highlighting six technologies and practices that are likely to have an impact on planning and decision making over the next five years. Key trends noted included the growing ubiquity of social media, increased integration of online, hybrid and collaborative learning, and the continued evolution of online learning.
However, inherent to all of these trends is the critical element of generating faculty buy-in. Making an investment in technology is just the first step. To see a return on that investment, one must recognize technology can not be a substitute for strategy. To realize the full benefit, you must link your technology adoption to your strategic imperatives. Simply growing online presence is not a strategic imperative!!! Technology can certainly be an enabler but it can not be an imperative in and of itself. Any initiative should focus on people and process, and then technology.
Thus, you must start with your people first and they must be bought in. All it takes is a little help along the way.
Our research has found that faculty members are very receptive to the idea of using technology in the classroom. The biggest barrier to doing so is simply a lack of understanding, or experience with, the technology at hand.
Let’s be honest: Faculty members are typically not the most technologically literate group. But they are willing to try, understanding (at least abstractly) the value it offers their students. So this lack of understanding is a solvable problem. We recommend that any instructional technology training and support program offer the following key attributes:
- Keep time in mind: Your faculty are busy and sitting through an instructional technology class is likely not going to be on the top of their to do list. Make sure any training is unobtrusive and is offered several times in order to increase the likelihood that they can fit it into their schedule.
- Incentivize desired behaviors: Everyone likes a gold star (or, better yet, a little bit of extra money in their pocket). If you want your faculty members to participate in certain types of advanced training programs, show them you value their time by offering certificates, teaching excellence awards, or a cash stipend for successful completion of the source.
- Add social learning opportunities: Coordinate optional meetings – perhaps over lunch, with the food provided – for faculty members to get together and learn from one another, rather than being trained by a member of the staff.
Talking about the role that technology could pay in higher education is fine, but true evolution will only come if the human element of implementing that technology is considered. If you want your faculty to integrate it into their day-to-day, make it easy, relevant, and valuable. Those are the keys to getting their buy-in to make use of your investments.
Eduventures Senior Analyst Brian Fleming and I will be discussing the human side of integrating technology into your student experience in our presentation Managing Innovation From the Ground Up at the UBTech Conference in June.